Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 4th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, August 4, 2014
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFoS)
is voicing its concern regarding the oil spill
into the Guaracara River, describing the
incident as a "fiasco."
The spill occurred following a leak at
Petrotrin s Point-a-Pierre refinery. The leak
was first detected around 12.45 pm last
week Tuesday at tank MP6, on the northern
side of the company s compound.
Approximately 17,844 barrels of slop oil,
which is a combination of oil, water and
sediment was said to have spilled, Petrotrin
Some 20 residents in Marabella had to
be taken to hospital after complaining of
feeling unwell. Three pregnant women, who
were also affected by the oil spill, were ad-
vised to move out of the area.
In an interview yesterday, president of
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea Gary
Aboud demanded to know how Petrotrin
was cleaning up the spill. He said if the
method used was not done properly this
could result in further health hazards.
"We want to know exactly how the clean-
up is being done. Is it taking the toxic mate-
rial and transfering it elsewhere or is
Petrotrin taking the toxic material and car-
rying it on a compound and simply burning
off the oil?
"Because they are doing the latter then
there would be toxic fumes in the air and
this would result in further health hazards
and other dangers," Aboud said.
The spill into the Guaracara River occurred
seven months after more than 7,000 barrels
of oil were released following a series of
spills along the southwestern peninsula
which began on December 18 along the Cof-
fee, Carat Shed and Point Sable beaches in
The Government spent some $50 million
in clean-up operations, which included
bringing experts from the United States to
Aboud also criticised Environment Min-
ister Ganga Singh saying he was "secretive
In February this year a National Environ-
mental Assessment Task Force headed by
chairman Dr Allan Bachan was set up to
probe the La Brea spill. Bachan is also the
head of the Environmental Management
Authority (EMA). Aboud said to date the
report from the task force has not been made
public and called on Singh to explain why.
In a text message response yesterday
Singh said the report was handed in on time
and then submitted to Cabinet. On the oil
spill issue the minister said he was out of
the country at the time.
President general of the Oilfields Workers
Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget says
Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali must
go and a public inquiry into the operations
of the company must be launched.
This as he expressed dissatisfaction with
the suspension of Petrotrin s vice president
of refining and marketing, Mado Bachan.
Bachan s suspension was announced on
Saturday by Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette
after last week s oil spill.
In an interview yesterday, Roget said the
decision to suspend Bachan was not good
enough and called for Hassanali to be removed.
"Nobody is pointing to the fact that it is
the president who has ultimate responsibility
for the operations. Were this BP Amoco, British
Gas, Repsol, any one of the multinational cor-
porations or any serious company the president
would have long gone. We continue with him
when he has to take ultimate responsibility
before his VP and top managers and so on.
He seems to be an untouchable," Roget
Last week Tuesday a ruptured oil tank (MP
6) at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and the
bund wall, which was supposed to contain
the spilled oil from the tank, collapsed leading
to oil escaping from the refinery and entering
the Guaracara River. Last December oil was
spilled into the Gulf of Paria along the south-
Roget said Petrotrin s top management
should not have allowed to remain after having
presided over two major oil spill disasters in
just under one year.
He called for an independent public inquiry
into the operations of Petrotrin, including the
company s hiring practices. He alleged that
the company was recruiting unqualified per-
sonnel for top positions and that is "hurting
and harming the company."
The OWTU, Roget said, has placed blame
for the current "fiasco" in Marabella squarely
at the feet of the Prime Minister Kamla Per-
He explained that the OWTU wrote to the
Prime Minister requesting a meeting on a
matter of urgent national interest with per-
tinent information that, if not acted upon,
there would be a repeat of the disaster that
occurred in La Brea on December 17.
"The Prime Minister refused to meet with
us and as a result of that Tuesday s situation
happened. We could have predicted that. Our
point is if they did not take action on a matter
of urgent requirement or make remedies to
the aging infrastructure that threaten the limbs
and lives of workers and the environment, if
they did not act on it with a proper and aggres-
sive programme then we would continue to
have disasters of that nature repeatedly," Roget
He said Persad-Bissessar s failure to deal
with the root cause of that December spill
and who caused it has the country back to
where it is today.
"After that major disaster this country
should not have to be going through another
disaster again. We went through it because
she protected her friends on the board and
her friends in management at Petrotrin. She
appointed a national taskforce. Where are
the recommendations from that taskforce?"
Roget said the La Brea situation was not
properly dealt with and now in Marabella peo-
ple lives are turned upside down.
"Their livelihood is affected they cannot
cook or provide a daily meal for themselves.
Businesses were shut down. All of those things
occurred, but you have a president of a state
enterprise remaining. We will have many more
disasters like that unless we remove Khalid
Hassanali and the top management of
Petrotrin," Roget argued.
He said the OWTU has evidence in its pos-
session which will reveal to the public on the
real cause of the oil spill.
Roget has promised to meet with Marabella
residents to hear their concerns today.
• See Page A7
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FFoS: It's a fiasco Read! Watch!
OWTU calls for
Petrotrin workers carry out clean-up operations at the Guaracara River in Pointe-a-Pierre. PHOTO:RISHI RAGOONATH
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